WE ARE Narcissus

I have tried to write my story many times and have never been able to get far. I always go over my words again and again, editing and polishing and getting caught in the obsessive intricateness of arranging lyrical phrases. I am hoping that writing this online and posting as I go will keep me pressing forward.


24. Honesty

for what it's worth, i had it in my mind when i wrote this letter that i was going to be totally open with my mother for the first time in my life, and maybe we could talk our issues out fully and come to a place of healing. i thought that i was giving our relationship one last shot, that this would be a launching pad for our new beginning. my dad later referred to this in our discourses as my "hate letter" to my mom. when i read her response to the aforementioned email, while working late on an art project for a college class, i lost it. i stumbled blindly through the halls, unsure where i was headed but knowing only that i needed to escape from myself, all the while sobbing uncontrollably. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:52 PM 


Hi Mom, 


I’m sorry. That’s a pretty ambiguous reply and I know you don’t think that means anything anyway, but I don’t know what else to say. You never seem to remember any of the things you say to me. As I remember it, I was not the one who cut you out of my life; you told me repeatedly and even came into my room to reiterate it just to be clear that I am not welcome in your house for the next sixteen years at least and that you don’t want me around any of the little kids or even speaking to them and that that was not going to change and seeing me if you had to at family events would be painful. You said we have no relationship because I’m an immoral deceitful person and so you weren’t going to call me. 


I don’t understand how you can’t remember me coming to you for help confessing that I was still bulimic last summer and you telling me I’m a horrible evil vain insane selfish witch and that you weren’t going to waste the money on someone like me to go to one of those treatment centers. I don’t understand how you think that you listen when all you ever do is repeat the same litany of “I’m a perfect mother and all I’ve ever done is love you unconditionally and yet somehow you’re a demon child.” I don’t understand how you don’t remember saying that you had to chose the truth over me and that only people who share the values you are creating within the house to make it safe can stay; maybe I interpreted that wrong, but it reads pretty clearly to me that unless I believe the same as you, you don’t want me around, and you told me that even if I pretended you’d know because my actions will show it. To me, that means an enormous amount of pressure I’d have to live under if I was at home because I can’t slip up once because I will never be the person that you want me to be and will always just have to painstakingly struggle to act the way that you have decided I should; I survived that through high school but I just can’t anymore. Since you seem to know everything I do, I’m assuming you know I slit my wrists in the shower at the end of last year? So I’m sorry. 


I’m sure you’re right and I’m just ungrateful; i know I must be a freak because I’m so absolutely utterly terrified of you. I hate that I can’t say anything that you won’t take in the most hurtful offensive way possible. I hate hurting you and I cannot physically handle being the target of your anger. You have given a lot and I really am grateful for having my tuition paid but you’ve also demanded so much in return and you never acknowledge it; I don’t understand how you’ve never seen the amount of pressure you put on all of us to achieve straight A’s even as you were grounding me for thirteen weeks straight for B’s right after telling me to relax about my grades, or how you could have forgotten incessantly pushing me to diet when I was going through puberty and pointing out my big arms or showing everyone my fat stomach. (i was wearing a red shirt worn by the golden child in a dance recital for her jazz class, and i was begging to go to the buffet restaurant for dinner. my mom grabbed the hem of my shirt and lifted it up, exposing for a few seconds my soft, swollen belly, before i pushed the cloth back down to cover my shame. her words were: "you don't look like you need to go out to eat.") I don’t understand how you telling me I got one more chance and if you ever found out I was bulimic again I’d be out of the house could have really meant that you’re a mom who’s there for me. 


You refuse to ever interpret your own emotions as anger and speak as if you have been patient and tried to support or help me, but it just doesn’t make sense because in reality every time we’ve come to a breaking point when you’ve been forced to face the fact that I’m struggling with my eating disorder you’ve broken down crying and yelled and screamed at me about how you can’t deal with so many kids and an unhappy marriage and how you need me not to have problems so that I can help you and you just want to take the little kids and leave dad and the teenagers to self destruct. How was you taking away the paintings that you saw me work so hard on for months and that you know mean so much to me not an action of anger and threatening to burn them not an expression of anger? You put constant pressure to always be helping you raise the little kids or do some other work and never wanted me to see friends and called me lazy and irresponsible every day of my life. 


I wish I could be honest with you, which you claim to desire since you’re always saying I’m a sneaky liar, but I know that none of this would resonate in any other way than adding to the long list of things you’ll feel obligated to forgive because God says that you have to love your demon children too. So this is the word I never got in edgewise during your lectures, when you demanded in frustration that I reply to you somehow. I’m not venting; I need you to understand this in order for us to be having a dialogue rather than you simply lecturing me. I don’t know what you could have possibly wanted me to say: certainly not this, since you won’t believe any of it and it’ll just offend you, so I’ve always unsatisfactorily tried to take the path of avoiding conflict and submit and apologize instead of saying this to you. We never have conversations because you always tell me before I have a chance to say anything what my own opinion is and then won’t let me deny it, and I’m always too terrified to really say anything. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t confided in you about my horrible painful eating disorder because you explaining my immorality to me or how I’m hurting the whole family and telling me to just stop or else has never helped. 


I’ve never wanted to cause trouble, and I know you’re always having to deal with so many things and I hate adding to that. I don’t want to alienate my family. I want to have a relationship with you and the rest of the family but I feel that when you say "having a relationship” you mean being the person you want me to be. I can’t be that person; I’ve tried my entire life, and what you see as me hiding or being deceptive was me at least trying to fake it because I know I can’t be what you want. I don’t want the same things. So basically, I am a person that you wouldn’t want around your family because I won’t set the right example. 


You and my grandparents both said that you expect me to fail here; you said you expected I’d make destructive choices and either suffer the consequences of them or watch my friends suffer them, get STD’s or go to prison or die etc., and then in probably about five years I’d come back apologizing and claiming to have learned and then you’d be able to tell if it was true because I’d be a person who lives our family values. In reality, I don’t think I’m doing much here you’d be ashamed of, beyond my eating disorder that of course I can’t handle and really do want help with, but I’m still not the person you want me to be and I’m not going to be because I don’t really want to. I just want to make my own choices and have my own opinions and I wish so badly that I knew how to be someone else but all I know how to do is pretend, and obviously that isn’t enough for you. I think you’ll probably see that as wanting to have my cake and eat it too, wanting to be in the family but not wanting to be your idea of who a family member is. I just can’t live up to the expectations that entails, and as I said before, I can’t even really make myself want to; in your mind that probably seems like me not wanting to be in the family, but to me it feels like you not wanting me. 


So I’m not saying I don’t want a relationship with you or that I’m forcing you not to help me or to abandon me, but I’m just honestly telling you that I’m a person who you do not want a relationship with. I hope that you don’t take this all offensively; I’m not trying to say that you’re a bad mom or blame you for everything, I’m just trying to be honest because that’s part of having a relationship. I do realize how much you deal with and that it all adds to how much you’ve always needed me to be a good person who’s able to help rather than have my own problems. But honestly, for most of my life I have been a very scared person who deals with low self esteem and depression and an eating disorder who spent most of high school trying desperately to convince myself that there was something in the future worth living for because mostly I wanted to kill myself all the time. Obviously I’m not dealing with my eating disorder very successfully but I’m trying and I’d love it if you could help me from a place of accepting me. I’m really sorry that I feel like everything I say is just going to hurt you but this is my perspective and I have to be honest. 




Wednesday, November 30, 2011 1:38 AM


Wow, your perspective is shocking to me. No, I do not remember saying ANY of those things to you  or ever thinking ANY of those things. I don't remember ever in my life thinking you were in the least bit evil. Until that dance thing last year I always had the belief and impression that you were a strong person with incredibly good values and I never varied from that thought. My reality of you has always been a person doing well that I didn't need to worry too much about. I always thought you were very blessed. The things you said I said are appalling. 


Even after that falling out I only said that you could not live in the house with kids (just like everyone else) if you were not living our family values. Everyone who has been asked to move out has exhibited the same problem. Hiding who they are from parents and doing things that would negatively influence little kids. It is the lack of an honest relationship that hurts the family. Moving out of here, or being asked to move out is not me kicking you out of my life. I only said I wouldn't call you because was so afraid of being a mom bothering you. I wanted a relationship to be based on you wanting one. Now I see that everything I have ever said or done to give you space and try to love you is interpreted as some hateful, nasty, vindictive attempt to destroy your life. Your perspective is so shocking it makes me think if I were you I would never speak to me again. In your reality or perspective I am a monster. I do not accept your reality as a picture that has any truth in it whatsoever, but I accept it as your version of truth and so I don't see any way back to any kind of relationship after that. You will probably misinterpret anything I say anyway. 


I would like to address each of your points from my perspective just because I can't stand to leave it unsaid, but I don't expect it to change anything. 


1. I told you that you were unwelcome while the kids are little if you want to live that way -- doing something against our values and lying about it. I have always expected that if you wanted to be with us you would decide to give up the lying about who you are. Again, moving out is not closing a relationship in my perspective. 


2. I don't think I am anywhere near a perfect mother and I never thought you were anything near a demon child. I always thought you were rather angelic as a whole and spoke only to everyone about how proud I was of you. The eating disorder struggle just made me feel sad for you that you had to struggle. I never said any of that horribleness about not paying for it. I was trying desperately to understand if you wanted to finish highschool and what you wanted to do about college and how treatment fit into that. I only wanted to go with what you wanted for yourself and not impose my decisions on you because I didn't know how serious it was or what you needed or were willing to give up. I tried hard to understand. 


3. I can't remember you ever being the target of my anger except for 30 minutes or so of real anger I felt when I found out the whole truth about the lying and drinking and that anger was really only because I was so surprised to discover that I didn't know you as well as I thought I did. I was caught way off guard. My crime has been assuming from the moment you were born that you are an angel. 


4. I have not given you a lot for which I believe you to be so ungrateful. I have attempted to the best of my ability to love you. Obviously it fell so short it is closer to abusive destruction in your estimation than love. 


5. I am most shocked about the comment that I pointed out your fat arms or showed everyone your fat stomache. I can't remember a moment in my life when I ever thought any part of you was fat. I would never do that or think that. That one is too unfathomable to me to fight. 


6. I stuck up for you against all the mean talk about you being lazy every day of my life. I can't believe I get that blame too. I would stick up for you and then I would talk to you about it. I talked to you because I loved you and you were an important part of my life. I didn't have any idea that I was portraying a monster in your reality. 


7. I never, EVER threateded to burn your paintings. I would never do anything to knowingly hurt them -- EVER -- in thought, word, or deed. I am sorry that there are consequences to bad choices and that you don't like them. (Not the kind of sorry that means repentant.) 


8. I don't have any idea about what you are talking about when you say you are a person I won't ever want around us and won't ever be. To me that says I will always be a person who hides everything from you and decieves you about who I am. That person is one who has never been around even when they were physically here. Who would want to be with someone under those conditions? 


9. You want me to come from a place of accepting you. I have never known any of you that would be hard to accept. I am being wholly honest about that. I still don't know. I only know you have an eating disorder. I don't know any horrible, evil things about you. I still don't believe that image of you is reality. Any time I was talking (you call it lecturing) I was struggling to come from every side of what you might be thinking or feeling to understand you or know who you are. Your silence left me guessing, but I always guessed you were this great kid who didn't want me to know you or interfere. I actually in my perspective feel like I tried hard to give you what you wanted and not to interfere too much, but I would talk to you-- to me it felt like I was reaching out -- clearly to you it felt like slamming you. When I listed those things in my last email I was trying to break down any barriers that might exist in your mind that might be some bad things you thought you would have to hide from me. It was my trying to prove that I have never been a person you need to hide from. It is all the hiding that has led to this even when I didn't know it was going on. 


10. Here is a conversation that I remember that was semi-recent that I feel like really somes up my whole reality about you and our relationship. We were walking on Donart and you said to me that you had done bad things that were worse than I could imagine. I remember not even prying or trying to get you to tell me anything specific because I didn't want you to feel pressured by me to have to be perfect or confess when you weren't. I knew I loved you anyway and it wouldn't change anything. I didn't want it to even appear like mistakes would affect my love for you. I honestly assumed that you were such a good kid that your horrible truth was nothing serious. Either way, I figured you would tell me if it was something you needed help with. I thought we had a relationship of trust. I thought you and I loved each other and were really close -- closer than most of my other family relationships. Wow, was I wrong there. I guess it was all in my head. Anyway,  I told you to forgive yourself because you are only who you are today and that you were too hard on yourself when you were such a good kid. I thought I was helping you love yourself. In my mind you have always been a great kid who worried too much. I thought you needed me to help you worry less. Wow, was I wrong. 


11. So I guess my reality is falling under your judgment that I refuse to define my own emotions as anger. Maybe, just maybe, looking from my reality you could begin to understand I didn't have anything to be angry about. I thought you were a good kid. I don't care about straight A's. Grades never made me angry. You never let me know the reality of monsterhood you were creating around me so I didn't know you had to be scared of me. What was there for me to be angry about?  What is there now? I just really don't know. 


12. And no, I don't know everything. I was trying to bring out what I do know to help you hide less. A pattern of failed attempts to reach out. I still hadn't seen even a glimpse of your reality of our relationship so I was talking from a complete place of darkness as usual. And no, I know nothing about you slitting your writsts. 


13. Here is what I think I do know about you. I think you are a good person, with a good heart. I think you have suffered from a very low self image that you seem to define as one created by me and bordering on my definition of demonic that has affected you and made you not want to live.  I think we have somehow built over the years a relationship in which I thought everything was going well and that my love for you was communicated and returned. In your reality I am a petty, self-centered whacko that insults and taunts and pressures you all the time and frightens you with bouts of anger that I pretend are loving guidance. I can see you don't need me in your life. No one would need the me that you have created. I will never be that monster, but I will certainly never bother you again since that it is what you see when you look at me. I would be glad to mail you the paintings if you send me an address to mail them to. I will continue to vote for paying your tuition fully. I will not impose my evilness on you anymore. After reading that I assume that getting away from me would be the best therapy I could ever find for you. 


 I do hope that you find people in your life who love truly love you and express it well. 


I wish you had been honest sooner so I could have stopped speaking a very long time ago. Nothing can be said from such a place that could do anything but hurt and destroy. 


Love, Mom 

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